Bust, Boom and Bust: Betting on Angola’s Crashing Economy

A French investor launches a steel mill into the teeth of Angola’s economic crisis.

Georges Choucair steps out onto his 20th floor balcony and flings a half-empty glass of Möet over downtown Luanda. Spread out below is the heartland of Angola’s political and economic class; government buildings, nightclubs and restaurants amongst the concrete trunks of half-finished skyscrapers, the legacy of a property boom that has transformed the capital’s skyline.

“It’s warm,” Choucair says, freshening the glass. “Champagne needs to be cold.”

The wine has been flowing freely in the Frenchman’s apartment as he plays host to a constant carousel of friends, family and colleagues, alongside members of Angola’s small but fantastically wealthy business elite. After more than 20 years in the country — which emerged from a 27-year civil war in 2002 to become Africa’s second-largest oil exporter — Choucair has just announced his biggest venture yet, a $300 million steel mill that he believes will kick-start the country’s industrial revolution.

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